New Reviews – 13:09:2013

We haven’t uploaded any reviews for a while, so we shall rectify that by letting you know about quite a few that came our way earlier in the week:

The Nine Deaths of Dr. Valentine cover image

First, here’s an Italian review (in Italian) at Nero Cafe of John Llewellyn Probert’s The Nine Deaths of Dr Valentine, by Mauro Saracino – read that one here.

Whitstable cover image

Then, here’s a review in French of Stephen Volk’s novella Whitstable, by Adam Joffrain on his new review blog Par dela les Montagnes Hallucinantes (Beyond the Incredible Mountains) – that one can be found right here.

Soul Masque by Terry Grimwood. © 2013 Terry Grimwood. Cover concept ©  2013 Neil Williams/Spectral Press. All rights reserved.

Soul Masque by Terry Grimwood. © 2013 Terry Grimwood. Cover concept © 2013 Neil Williams/Spectral Press. All rights reserved.

And next we have a couple of reviews of the latest chapbook, Soul Masque by Terry Grimwood, the first of which can be found on Stanley Riik’s blog here. And finally, here’s one from Matthew Fryer posted to his Welcome to the Hellforge blog – that one’s here.

More soon!

A Cenobite’s approval and a new review of Creakers


How about this for a celebrity endorsement? This is our good friend Barbie Wilde, who should be known to all horror aficionados as the actress who played the Female Cenobite in Hellbound: Hellraiser II and is also an author in her own right (we thoroughly recommend her novel The Venus Complex), and here she is encouraging you all to go out and buy a copy of Stephen Volk’s Whitstable, if you haven’t done so already. She bought it, and the first thing we knew about it was when she posted a status on Facebook to say how much she loved it. Now, you really don’t want the Female Cenobite to haunt your nightmares, do you? We suggest you follow her lead and buy a copy today.







CREAKERS by Paul Kane

Creakers front cover by Neil Williams

The latest issue of the FREE Morpheus Tales Review Supplement (#21) is now available for download (get it here), and it carries a review by Stanley Riiks of Spectral chapbook #9, Paul Kane’s Creakers. Here are a couple of choice quotes from the it:

“I didn’t think a short story could touch me, make me feel, creep me out… Kane manages to literally send shivers down your spine in this tense and disturbing tale….”

“One of the best chapbooks so far, and that’s from a truly epic collection. Stunningly good, this is Kane at his very best.”

Thanks to Stanley for such a brilliant review – please note, however, that this chapbook is now SOLD OUT!

In the same issue, you can also read the latest installment of my Ramblings of a Tattooed Head column.

More reviews soon!

The Way of the Leaves: two new reviews

The Way of the Leaves cover image

The two reviews posted below of David Tallerman’s competition-winning story, The Way of the Leaves (and reproduced with the full permission of the publishers), are both from Morpheus Tales magazine – they liked it so much the reviewed it twice. The first is by J. S. Watts:

A reviewer’s life is not always a predictable one. I chose to review David Tallerman’s The Way of the Leaves thinking it was a new novel – I’ve enjoyed his previous, full-length work. I was therefore a bit disappointed to discover it was only a thirty two page short story, but I’m pleased to say the disappointment was short-lived. It is more than just a short story. It is a very fine, award winning short story.

Published by Spectral Press in 2012, The Way of the Leaves won the Spectral Press 2012 Horror Short Story Competition. Personally, I wouldn’t describe it as horror. To me, it seems more like dark fantasy, but whatever it is in terms of genre, it is haunting, dark and lyrical: a tale of dread and foreboding and a discovery that will change two teenagers’ lives forever.

To tell you any more would be to give away the plot, but clearly, if you stumble across an ancient “place between places”, you cannot guarantee that you’ll ever fit back properly into the place you first came from.

Go and read the story for yourself – you won’t regret it.

And this second one is from Stanley Riiks:

It goes some way to showing you the sheer quality of the Spectral Press publications that when they run a competition for their eighth chapbook, they have the likes of David Tallerman (author of Giant Thief and Crown Thief, published by Angry Robot Books) entering.

I haven’t read Tallerman’s novels, but an established author with a publishing contract entering a short story competition for a small press publisher is a massive achievement for Spectral. And Spectral deserves that kind of dedicated, that kind of pull, because they are brilliant at what they do.

The eighth (only the eighth and they’ve already confirmed their reputation as one of the best British small press publishers!) magazine-style chapbook features Tallerman’s story, a story of two teenagers whose adventure ends in disaster, but that doesn’t even begin to do justice to this story.

Yes, sure, it’s a simple enough story of love and loss, but it’s the sadness that Tallerman portrays that clutches at your heart-strings. It’s well written and the characters are well-rounded, and it reads nicely, but I truly wasn’t impressed to begin with. Halfway through and I was still not thinking this was anything special. I’m glad I persevered (it’s not that this isn’t a brilliant story, it is, but it needs time to build);, it builds into a heart-wrenching urban fantasy. A personal tale of deep loss, and hope and hopelessness.

Tallerman provides a soul-chilling tale worthy of the Spectral name. If you haven’t subscribed to this limited-edition chapbook series you may be too late. It’s mostly sold out and deservedly so. The very best of British.

Although the chapbook itself is sold out, there will be a collected edition of all eight volumes coming out later this year, in paperback and eBook.  There wull also be a very special collector’s edition of TEN only boxsets of all eight chapbooks in their original format, housed in a red Wibalin cloth-covered and gold foil stamped slipcase – more details soon!

More reviews soon!

Monday morning goodness: 29th October 2012

Various bits of news to get through this morning, so you won’t find us dallying on this beautifully sunny but cold autumn day:

What Gets Left Behind cover image

First up is a new review of Mark West’s What Gets Left Behind, the latest in Spectral’s renowned chapbook line. This one’s from Stanley Riiks, editor of the Morpheus Tales Review Supplement, which he has posted (due to space restrictions in the latest Supplement) on his own blog. We particularly like this quote:

“I can’t remember when I’ve read a short story this good. West has done a grand job and the usually excellent quality of the Spectral Press chapbooks is nudged up to stunning with this.”

The rest of the review can be read here.


Whitstable cover image

Last Friday we revealed the cover (by stellar artist Ben Baldwin – above) to the forthcoming Spectral Visions novella from Stephen Volk (GhostwatchAfterlife), Whitstable. Although the book won’t be published until next May, in time to celebrate the centenary of the birth of the English actor and wonderful human being Peter Cushing, it has already generated quite a lot of interest and reservations are already being made. To make what promises to be a great book even better, Spectral has arranged a superb deal with Cosmic Hobo Productions: for a special price, not only will you get the limited signed and numbered hardback edition of the book, but you’ll also get a 2 x CD audiobook of Peter Cushing reading his memoirs of the Hammer years, Past Forgetting. You can reserve your copies of both book and CDs by contacting us on spectralpress[AT]gmail[DOT]com. This is sure to be a popular book, so get those reservations in today!

You might also like to know that Stephen will be appearing with revered genre writer Ramsey Campbell at the Newcastle Winter Book Festival on Saturday November 24th 2012 at 6:45pm at the Literary & Philosophical Society, 23 Westgate Road, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 1SE. He will be previewing Whitstable at the event, details of which can be obtained here.

Finally, to wrap things up, we are proud to announce that the thirteenth story in the first Spectral Ghost Story Annual (The Thirteen Ghosts of Christmas) will be John Forth’s The Green ClearingJohn joins the host of other fine writers (details here) whose stories have made it into what we here at Spectral Towers hope will become an annual tradition looked forward to by all lovers of spooky tales! Congratulations John!

Onwards and upwards!!

Another review of The Eyes of Water surfaces

The Eyes of Water cover image

Another Monday morning, but at least we can start the week off with a review of Alison Littlewood’s Spectral chapbook story, The Eyes of Water. This one is featured in the very latest Morpheus Tales Review Supplement (#18), which is available now.  The review has been written by Stanley Riiks, and can be found on page 6 of said supplement – you can download the issue from here, and best of all it’s FREE! Even better than that, it also contains the latest Ramblings of a Tattooed Head column from Spectral Press captain, Simon Marshall-Jones.

In a small piece of news, we’ve been informed that Alison’s story has also been recommended for a Stoker Award – which we believe is fully deserved. Good luck Alison!


The next Spectral Visions novella will be Stephen Volk’s Whitstable, which will be published around the time of the centenary of the late great actor Peter Cushing’s birth next year (May). It will feature a specially-written Afterword by Mark Morris, and we are also very excited to announce that it will feature a cover by Ben Baldwin.

More details soon!

A duet of reviews: Rough Music

Rough Music by Simon Kurt Unsworth

Another bright and sunny Monday morning here at Spectral Towers (although snow has been forecast this week for Scotland and the North of England, with the possibility of it spreading elsewhere later in the week) – but that doesn’t matter as we’ve received two new reviews of Simon Kurt Unsworth’s Rough Music chapbook, which is enough to get things off to a good start.

First up is this one from the Morpheus Tales Review Supplement (#16 – April 2012) by Stanley Riiks:

“The quarterly limited edition chapbooks of Spectral Press continue to impress with Unsworth’s short tale of manipulation and guilt. The possibly supernatural element of the story may also be a manifestation of psychosis, as Mr Cornish is kept up for several nights by a mysterious noise. When he goes to investigate it, he finds a man outside his window banging a wooden spoon against a piece of metal. When he goes to investigate the same noise the next night, more mysterious dark figures appear just outside the light from the lamppost. Cornish is attempting to fix his failing marriage, and the sleep deprivation is not helping.

I can say without a doubt that this is not the finest of the very fine chapbooks from Spectral Press. Unsworth does a pretty decent job, but compared with previous stories, this is predictable and not outstanding. It’s not bad, and it certainly doesn’t bring into question its inclusion alongside Paul Finch’s gruesome King Death or Gary McMahon’s disturbing but subtle What They Hear In The Dark. But compared with the rest of the stories on offer, it feels a little like the poor cousin.

Rough Music deserves to be read, but doesn’t quite live up to the standard of previous editions. Spectral Press continues to produce the very finest in fiction, and maintains a quality of fiction difficult to match.”

The second one is from Shiny Shorts, and is written by Mario Guslandi – what is his opinion of this story from the World Fantasy Award nominee? Click here to find out.

More reviews soon!!

A new year, a new review and an accolade

HAPPY NEW YEAR!! We here at Spectral hope that 2012 is everything you wish it it to be!!

Spectral has a lot to look forward to this year – in March, the launch of the first in the series of 10 audio-CDs of Lovecraft stories (along with those by modern masters of Lovecraftian fiction) set to music, Musiks & Mythos, to be released at the rate of a double-CD once every four months. Also, we’re hoping to launch the first of the Spectral Visions line of novellas (more news to follow very soon!) and then, in December, the very first in the Christmas Ghost Story annuals – reviving a very popular Victorian/Edwardian tradition!

More details to follow – keep checking this blog regularly! So, as the saying goes, hold onto your hats!!


And so, to start the new year off properly, here’s the first chapbook review of 2012 – this one’s from Morpheus Tales Review Supplement #15, and written by Stanley Riiks:

The Spectral Press chapbooks are very nicely produced, single-story, limited editions. Some sell out before they are even released, which is a shame because stories like this deserve to be read.

Finch’s story is set during a devastating plague in 1348. The Black Death is ravaging the country, dead bodies are piled everywhere, the stench of death violates the air. Rodric, a chancer and opportunist, finds a way to make the most of the scraps, rifling through dead bodies to collect coins and jewels. But his encounter with a young boy will change his life forever…

Previous stories from Spectral Press have been heavy on atmosphere, and this book is no different, despite being a bit more visceral than the others, which I really like. Dead bodies, pus and guts, bring it on!

The same quality and attention to detail is prevalent, and Finch’s expertise in his story telling gives such an authenticity to the proceedings, you can practically feel the thick stench of death in the air while you read.

Spectral Press has done it again, producing yet another well-crafted story in a very nice package. Spectral is one to watch, one of the crowning glories of the British small press. (My italics)

My thanks to Stanley and to Morpheus Tales for the review and the support! You can download the rest of the issue, which includes interviews with Andy Remic and Mark Morris, as well as the usual mix of reviews and columns, from


In the same issue of Morpheus Tales Review Supplement came a bit of a surprise – Spectral was awarded the Stanley Riiks Awards 2011 Small Press Award for Brilliance. What a fantastic way to start 2012!!

But, like I keep saying, this is just the beginning and so ONWARDS AND UPWARDS!!

Two new reviews…

As a good start to my week, I have received two new positive reviews of What They Hear in the Dark, Spectral’s inaugural chapbook publication. The first one is from Stephen Theaker, posted in Theaker’s Quarterly


Becky and Rob have moved into a creepy new home following a family tragedy, one gradually revealed to the reader. The space between them, of things that can’t be said, is mirrored by the space beneath their stairs, a place where nothing can be said. There, Becky feels the presence of someone they both love and miss; Rob feels something more malicious.

This is the first in a series of chapbooks from Spectral Press, sold on a subscription basis, and given that Gary McMahon seems to be an author with a bright future – a bright future of spreading misery and darkness! – this is a very collectable little item.

The story for me suffered a little from the climax being anticipated by a premonitory dream; second time around is in theory more frightening because Rob notices something new, though I was distracted by wondering why he realised it then and not the first time. Logic aside (and where does logic enter into what you notice in a dream anyway?), what he notices at the end is truly shocking, and the story as a whole is moving and quite terrifying. As with “In the Skin” (in Different Skins), McMahon isn’t afraid to write about bad things happening to children, and that gives him the opportunity to hit us where it really hurts.

A handful of minor editing and formatting glitches demonstrate why a series of chapbooks is such a practical, sensible way for a small press to get started. The format echoes – copies, you might even say – that of the successful Nightjar chapbooks: similar cover stylings, lower case titles, and even a title that reminds of Michael Marshall Smith’s successful What Happens When You Wake Up In the Night. You might wonder if there is room in the market for two such similar offerings, but if Spectral continue to produce chapbooks as interesting as this one I’m sure there will be.


The second review is from Morpheus Tales and can be found in their Review Supplement (no. 12),which can be found here (and it can be downloaded for free, too!). This is what Stanley Riiks had to say about it:


Following the murder of their son, Eddie, Rob and Becky decide to renovate a house, to try to take their mind off things, and to give them some time to heal and a project to work on together. But there is a room in the house that is completely empty of noise. The quiet room.

And the parents of the dead child are haunted, and in the quiet room the ghosts come in silence…

McMahon does this kind of story so well it’s quite sickening. How he manages to tug at the heart-strings and draw you in so deeply in the space of a few pages (in this case just twenty two), is nothing short of remarkable.

This is quiet horror in every sense, the theme echoing the contents of the story. Subtlety reins as we watch the characters attempting to deal with their loss, haunted (literally and metaphorically).

This is another haunting story from McMahon that sticks with you long after reading it. One that plays on your mind and touches a sadness inside all of us who have ever lost anyone.

Spectral Press have launched with this stellar title by McMahon, and with only one hundred copies available, I should imagine they will disappear fast. I’d like to see a printed version to see the quality of the finished product (one of the difficulties of reviewing an ebook version), but obviously one of the problems with limited editions prints is availability.

An evocative and compelling story that really gets you in the gut. Powerful and touching, McMahon delves into the true darkness of our hearts.